Prince dead: Musician’s secret vault reportedly contains ‘thousands’ of unreleased songs
The world says its painful goodbyes, but Prince’s musical legacy doesn’t yet appear to be over.
Long has the legend of Prince’s secret vault embedded itself into music’s most secretive whisperings; as recently as last year, The Guardian reported the vault was crammed with enough unreleased material for the musician to posthumously release an album a year until the next century. Back in 1996, The New York Times reported the vault as containing “at least a thousand” unreleased songs.
However, the vault was just another factor in the icon’s mystique; Prince’s famous drive for total privacy, for the only reality we saw to be the magic on stage. He never spoke of the vault or the treasures contained within, with our only knowledge coming from those who worked with him.
Prince’s former sound engineer Susan Rogers, for example, claims she first created the vault; “I joined Prince in 1983 when he was preparing to do Purple Rain. I realised it would be smart for me to get his tapes together in one place. I was aware there were a lot of pieces missing. It became an obsession. I wanted us to have everything he’d ever recorded.”
“I called up the studios he’d been using and said: ‘Have you got any Prince tapes’? This is his legacy. We need to protect these things. It’s an actual bank vault, with a thick door. It’s in the basement of Paisley Park. When I left in 87, it was nearly full. Row after row of everything we’d done. I can’t imagine what they’ve done since then.”
“I think over 70% of the music we’ve worked on for Prince is yet to come out,” said Brent Fischer, a composer who worked on orchestration for Prince’s work for 30 years. “There are a lot of songs that were sent to us clearly with the idea that they would never be released. They were almost comical songs that he would work out with his horn players. There was a lot of wild horn parts and experimentation with samples. I’d like to see ‘All My Dreams’ come out. We enjoyed that song so much. I think it’s nine-and-a-half minutes. It’s this epic journey.”
Unreleased projects include side-project The Rebels, a group effort created with his backing band which aimed for stronger rock elements; live jam sessions recorded in late 1985 to early 1986 known as The Flesh; and Dream Factory, recorded with The Revolution from 1986. It’s unknown whether these tracks are contained within the vault, but there’s clearly an absolutely colossal amount of material hidden away.
“He could put out music for the next generation and it would still be relevant,” said Prince’s childhood friend and longtime bass player. “I don’t think you’ll ever get to hear everything in the vault because you’d have to sit down for 10 years. There is just too much to go through.”